Judiciary demands budget hike, financial autonomy

April 17th, 2008 - 6:35 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Lamenting what it termed abysmally low expenditure on administration of justice in the country, the Indian judiciary Thursday raised a vehement demand for raising its budgetary allocation and granting financial autonomy to it. The country’s judiciary made the demand for enhanced budget and financial autonomy for itself at an ongoing two-day’s annual judges’ meet here, being held to deliberate upon various issues of legal reforms.

The meet approved of the agenda note demanding the enhanced budget and financial autonomy for the judiciary, an apex court official attending the conference told IANS.

Inaugurated by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, the conference is being chaired by the apex court’s two senior most judges, Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice Ashok Bhan. The meet is being attended by all the apex court judges and chief justices of the various high courts across the country.

The agenda note of the judges’ conference is to be submitted to the Union and various state governments at Saturday’s joint conference of state chief ministers and chief justices. The meet is to be addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The agenda note rued that “Barring Delhi, various states of the country have been spending less than one percent of their budget for subordinate judiciary and trial courts. Even Delhi spends a meagre 1.03 percent of its budget on subordinate judiciary.”

“In terms of gross national product (GNP), the expenditure on judiciary in our country is hardly 0.2 percent, whereas it is 1.2 per cent in Singapore, 1.4 percent in United States of America and 4.3 per cent in United Kingdom,” the agenda note said.

Analysing the total expenditure by the Union government during the last two five-year plans period, the agenda note said: “In the Ninth Plan (1997-2000), the Centre released Rs.3.85 billion for priority demands of judiciary which amounted to a meagre 0.071 percent of the total expenditure of Rs.5.41 trillion (Rs.5,41,207 crore).”

“Similarly, during the Tenth Plan (2002-2007), the allocation was Rs.7 billion, which is 0.078 percent of the total plan outlay of Rs.8.93 trillion (Rs.8,93,183 crore),” said the agenda note adding: “Such meagre allocations are grossly inadequate to meet the requirements of the judiciary.”

“Unlike in other departments of the government, more than half of the amount which is spent on Indian Judiciary is raised from the Judiciary itself through collection of court fees, stamp duty and miscellaneous matters,” it noted.

Lamenting the lack of financial autonomy to the judiciary, the agenda note said: “Judiciary is always held responsible for mounting arrears of court cases. But it does not control the resources of funds and has no power to create additional Courts, appoint adequate court staff and augment the infrastructure required for the courts.”

“The high courts have power of superintendence over the state judiciary but do not have financial power to create even one post of a trial court judge or his subordinate staff. It can neither acquire land nor purchase building for setting up courts or undertake their modernisation,” the agenda note said.

Seeking more budgetary allocation and financial autonomy for the judiciary, the agenda note of the judges’ meet said: “Various state governments must provide adequate funds at the disposal of the high courts for augmenting the infrastructure.”

“Governments must not allow their financial constraints” to impinge upon the functioning of the justice delivery system, said the note adding: “We must realise that the very existence of an orderly society depends upon a sound and efficient functioning of the criminal justice system.”

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